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Marshal Henry Brown - Caldwell

The Caldwell Commercial, Thursday, October 19, 1882.
Henry Brown is acting as City Marshal during the absence of Bat. Carr, with Ben Wheeler as assistant. Henry is all business, yet withal quiet and unobtrusive, and will do his full duty in preserving the peace of the city. Of this fact he has given ample evidence in his former position as assistant City Marshal.
The Caldwell Commercial, Thursday, November 9, 1882.
A dispatch from Wellington on Monday last, states that James Bean, the Texas desperado, who was brought in some two weeks since and lodged in jail, for having killed City Marshal Brown at Caldwell last summer, died Sunday at 2 o’clock from the wounds received in his engagement with the Texas authorities, who captured him at Decatur. He had twelve shots in his body and two Winchester rifle balls. The post mortem today showed that his death was directly due to a No. 2 shot, which had struck him in the forehead and entering, had passed entirely through his brain and lodged in the base of the skull. Though the shot had entered his brain and others through his body, he lived for thirty days and talked of recovery up to within twenty-four hours of his death, at which time he became unconscious. He had been a desperate man, having been engaged in deeds of atrocity since he was twenty years old, and carried besides the wounds received at his capture, eight or ten other balls and many scars.
The Caldwell Commercial, Thursday, December 28, 1882.
The City Council met last Friday night and appointed Henry Brown marshal in place of Bat. Carr, and Ben Wheeler assistant marshal. The appointments give general satisfaction.
The Caldwell Commercial, Thursday, January 4, 1883.
                                                   A Fine New Year’s Present.
On Monday afternoon our efficient City Marshal, Henry Brown, was quietly tolled into York-Parker-Draper M. Co.’s store, and in the presence of a few friends presented with a new Winchester rifle. The presentation speech was made by Frank Jones, to which Henry responded as well as he could under his astonishment and embarrassment at the unexpected demonstration. The rifle is of superior workmanship, the barrel being octagon, the butt end beautifully engraved and plated with gold. The stock is made of a fine piece of black walnut, with a pistol grip, and one side of it has a silver plate inscribed, “Presented to H. N. Brown by his many friends, as a reward for the efficient services rendered the citizens of Caldwell. A. M. Colson, Mayor, January 1, A. D. 1883.”
The Caldwell Commercial, Thursday, February 1, 1883.


Henry Brown, our city marshal, having obtained a leave of absence from the mayor and council, left yesterday on a visit to his old home at Rolla, Missouri, after an absence of ten years. Mr. Brown, during the past eight months, has given his entire time and attention to his duties first as assistant marshal, and then as marshal; and has proven himself a most efficient officer and fairly earned the holiday. It is no flattery to say that few men could have filled the position he has so acceptably occupied. Cool, courageous, and gentlemanly, and free from the vices supposed to be proper adjuncts to a man occupying his position; he has earned the confidence of our best citizens and the respect of those disposed to consider themselves especially delegated to run border towns. One other thing may be said in his favor. He has never been the recipient of self-presented testimonials nor hounded the newspaper offices of the surrounding villages for personal puffs, and it gives us supreme satisfaction to state these facts. For one, the COMMERCIAL hopes Mr. Brown will heartily enjoy his trip, the visit to scenes of his childhood, and return with renewed energy for the duties of his position.

                                              KILLED BY THE MARSHAL.
Spotted Horse is no more. He departed this life last Monday morning, at the hands of the city marshal, H. N. Brown. The manner of his death and the circumstances leading thereto are about as follows.
Spotted Horse was a Pawnee Indian, whose custom it was to make periodical visits to Caldwell with one or more of his squaws, bartering their persons to the lusts of two-legged white animals in whom the dog instinct prevailed. Last Friday or Saturday Spotted Horse drove into town in a two-horse wagon, with one of his squaws, and went into camp on a vacant lot between Main and Market streets. About half past six on Monday morning he walked into the Long Branch Restaurant with his squaw and wanted the proprietors to give them breakfast. This they refused to do, when he left and wandered around town, taking in the Moreland House, where he was given a sackful of cold meat and bread. From thence he and the squaw went over to E. H. Beals’ house on Market street, north of Fifth. Mr. Beals and his family were just sitting down to breakfast when Spotted Horse and his squaw walked in without the least ceremony and demanded something to eat. Mr. Beals’ wife and daughter were considerably alarmed, and the former ordered the Indians to leave. They went out and then Spotted Horse handed to the squaw the bundle of grub he had obtained at the Moreland, and walked back into the house, up to the table, and put his hand on Miss Beals’ head. Mr. Beals immediately jumped to his feet and made signs for the Indian to go out, at the same time applying an opprobrious epithet to him. The Indian immediately pulled out his revolver, and Mr. Beals told him to get out and they would settle the trouble there. Spotted Horse put up his pistol and walked out, and Mr. Beals after him. Once outside, the Indian pulled his revolver again, and Mr. Beals seized a spade that was at hand. Just about this time Grant Harris ran up to the Indian and told him to go away, that he ought not to attack an old man. The Indian then opened out with a volley of abuse, directed to Mr. Beals, in good plain English. Young Harris finally induced him to put up his pistol and leave.
The next heard of Spotted Horse and his squaw was that they had walked into the back door of the Long Branch kitchen and helped themselves to breakfast. Louis Heironymous being the only one connected with the restaurant present in the building at the time, made no objections, and the two reds had a good feast.

It appears that after breakfast the squaw went to the wagon, while Spotted Horse strolled into Morris’ grocery, one door north of the Long Branch. Meantime a complaint had been made to city marshal Brown in reference to the Indian’s conduct at Beals’ house, and the marshal had started out to hunt him up, finally finding him in Morris’ grocery. The marshal approached Spotted Horse and requested him to go with him to Mr. Covington, in order that the latter might act as an interpreter. The Indian refused, when the marshal took hold of him. Spotted Horse didn’t like that, and commenced to feel for his revolver. The marshal pulled his out and told the Indian to stop. On the latter refusing to do so, the marshal fired at him. In all, four shots were fired by the marshal, the last one striking the Indian about where the hair came down to his forehead, and came out at the back of his head. Parties who were present state that if the officer’s last shot had failed, the Indian would have had the advantage, because he had just succeeded in drawing his revolver when the shot struck him.
The Indian was shortly after removed to the warehouse two doors north, where every attention was given him, but he died in about two hours without uttering a word, although he seemed to be conscious up to within a few moments before breathing his last.
Coroner Stevenson was telegraphed for and came down late in the afternoon, viewed the body, and held an inquest that night. On Tuesday morning, the jury brought in a verdict that the deceased came to his death by a gun shot wound in the hands of H. N. Brown, and that the shooting was done in the discharge of his duty as an officer of the law, and the verdict of the entire community is the same.
The squaw, we are told, upon hearing the first shot fired, hitched the horses to the wagon and drove off as fast as she could toward the Territory.
[Note: For some reason one of the Indian newspapers spread the word that Marshal Brown had killed Hard Rope, an Osage Indian, instead of the Pawnee Indian.]
A couple of wagons of Pawnee men and women came in Tuesday to obtain the body of Spotted Horse. They went to the cemetery and opened the grave, but finding the body too much decomposed to permit of its removal they went through with their customary rites, replaced the body, and filled up the grave. Mayor Colson gave the Indians all the assistance he could, for which the Indians expressed great satisfaction. They left for home yesterday morning.
Winfield Courier, May 8, 1884.
                                                   SWIFT RETRIBUTION.
A Star’s Harper, Kansas, special says:
A report is received from Medicine Lodge that the four bank robbers were captured and placed in jail, and that a mob broke in and shot one to death, and took the other three out and hanged them. Payne, the bank president, is dying.
A Journal Harper, Kansas, special says:
Swift retribution has overtaken the Medicine Lodge murderers and robbers. The posse in pursuit came up with the robbers three miles from town, captured them after a brief struggle, and brought them back to town and lodged them in the calaboose. A crowd gathered last night and attacked the building. One of the robbers opened fire, whereupon the crowd riddled him with bullets. The remaining three were then taken out, conducted to the edge of the town, and hung. The excitement of the crowd was intense. They refused to listen to the officers, who endeavored to quiet them. One of the prisoners begged for mercy, but the others died game.
The excitement increased when it was found two of the robbers were Henry Brown and Ben Wheeler, marshal and assistant marshal of Caldwell. The other two were Jno. Wesley and Bill Smith, cowboys from the “T. 5.” range. All the men were well known here.

Mr. Payne is reported dying. The bullet entered his breast over the heart, and came out below the shoulder blade. Gephart was first shot in the back and then shot in the forehead. He died instantly.
Several persons from here visited Medicine Lodge Thursday, the scene of Wednesday’s tragedy. The robbers, it appears, approached the bank during the rain storm, waited until the president and cashier were alone, and then entered the building. Soon after the shooting commenced the citizens began to gather, and when the robbers fled, they were pursued by 100 men. The robbers took a stand among the sand hills three miles from town and held out until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when they surrendered.
They were taken back and jailed for the night, when a crowd attacked the jail and overpowered the guard. Brown opened fire and was at once shot to death. The others, before being strung up, preserved a calm demeanor except one, who broke down and implored mercy. They denied nothing, had no statement to make, and speedily expiated their crime.
Brown was a well known desperado, one of the best shots in the state. Medicine Lodge is situation in southwestern Kansas near the line of the Indian Territory.
Winfield Courier, May 15, 1884.
                                       MORE ABOUT THE BANK ROBBERY.
The following particulars of the Medicine Lodge bank robbery we take from a Caldwell Standard extra sent us by Ira McCommon.
The robbers came into town about 10 o’clock a.m. It was raining at the time and no one seemed to have noticed them until the firing was heard in the bank. They had camped the night previous in a grove on the Medicine River west of town and rode into town from the west. They stopped in the rear of the bank building, two of the horses being hitched by ropes, and Smith holding the third and sitting on the remaining horse. Smith remained with the horses. Brown, Wheeler, and Wesley went into the bank. Wheeler went in at the front door and Brown and Wesley at the side door. Wheeler presented his pistol at Mr. Geppert and told him to “throw up his hands.” Brown covered Payne with the same order. Wesley said nothing. It is believed that his part of the terrible business was to cover and kill, if necessary, the clerk, Mr. _____, but luckily for him he had gone to the post office with the Harper mail and was not at that time in the bank. It is said that the young man is yet pale and extremely agitated by reason of his good luck.
Geppert threw up in obedience to Wheeler’s command. Here it is proper to state a fact or two which will be interesting to everybody who has been unduly excited by the awful affair. It transpires that the bank president and cashier had been notified some days before that an attempt would be made to rob the bank. The matter had been talked of in the families of the two gentlemen who have been killed, and their wives now tell of the conversations that were had in regard to the matter.
They had been warned by “I bar Johnson,” [PAPER HAD I bar...DOES NOT SEEM RIGHT] and it is supposed that Payne and his cashier had agreed to throw up their hands as their warning told them they must do to save their lives. When the command was given, Mr. Geppert did throw up his hands, and after a moment of pause, he turned to see what Payne was doing, and then Wheeler fired, shooting him through the body, and Brown immediately after shot Payne. There were two shots found in Geppert’s body, and it is supposed that Wesley fired one of them.

There is but little doubt some notice of the intended robbery had been given to them. The fact that Mr. Geppert’s expiring effort was directed toward throwing on the combination of the safe is almost conclusive of the fact, for it is hard to believe that a man without previous knowledge of the attack, having received two fatal shots, would turn directly to the safe, and with the last motion of his nerveless arm turn a lock upon the property of which he was guardian.
I bar Johnson came into Medicine when Horner and others were there. He made a sworn statement to the general effect that some weeks ago Wheeler and the others came to him and urged him to enter into the plot to rob the bank. He refused to do so, and they then told him that they intended to rob the bank anyhow, and that if he “squealed,” they would kill him. He says he had notified Geppert and Payne that an attempt at robbery would be made, and that the robbers would order them to throw up their hands, and that if they complied, they  would not be hurt, and the supposition is that Geppert and Payne threw up conformably with the understanding, preferring to take chances on recapturing the money in case of a robbery. Hence they had made no preparation to guard against robbery.
Geppert was found dead by the combination of the safe, sitting in the vault with his life blood streaming about him. Faithful to the last his expiring thought was of the property in his charge and with the shadow of death hovering over him he staggered to the vault, threw on the combination, and sank into eternity.
Payne received but one wound. It was inflicted by Brown with a pistol. He fell from the shock, and when found was weltering on the floor and writhing and groaning in the agony of death. He lived long enough to make a statement that Brown shot him, while Wheeler and Wesley killed Geppert.
Smith was in the rear of the bank in charge of the horses. When the shooting was about over in the bank, the marshal opened fire on Smith with a six shooter. Brown came to the front door of the bank and opened fire on the marshal with his Winchester, firing three shots. At the same time Smith was shooting at the marshal and everybody else he could see.
The robbers had considerable difficulty in loosing their horses, the ropes having become taut in the rain. The statement published in yesterday’s extra of the details of the chase and capture are correct and need not be repeated.
When the robbers rode out of town, Barney O’Conner was playing poker. He quietly picked up his checks, put them in his pockets, and remarking that he would have them cashed when he got back, went to his stable, saddled his horse, seized his gun, and in less than ten minutes from the departure of the robbers, was in hot pursuit. He kept them in sight and guided the attacking party who were following.

The robbers were driven into a hole—a pit, in fact, filled with water. While the fight was in progress, they stood in water waist deep and they all stated that they had become so benumbed and cold that surrender was necessary. Brown was the first man to give up. He called out to the attacking party that if they would protect him, he would surrender. The promise was made and Henry Brown, the man whom our people have always thought so brave, walked out of the hole into which he had been driven, and laid down his gun. Wheeler came out second, Wesley third, and finally Smith, the only game man in the gang, the only man who seemed to know the frailty of a promise of protection after their awful deed, walked out saying, “Boys, I came into it with you, and I’ll go out and die with you.”
The robbery was attempted, say at 10 a.m. The robbers were brought in at 1 p.m. That’s what we call pretty quick work, and speaks well for the energy of the Medicine Lodge men.
The robbers were shackled and put into the calaboose, the only jail they have in that county. They were provided with dry clothing and were well fed. They were photographed during the day and a very good picture was obtained of all except Wheeler. His features were so drawn that he looked unnatural. Harvey Horner has the photo on exhibition at his drug store, as well as a photo of the nine men who made the capture. The photos were taken about 3 p.m. It is stated that at that time our former brave city marshal got down on his knees, groveling in the dirt, and begged for and implored mercy. Great God! Can this be the man that has held Caldwell in terror so long?
Brown at this time wrote a letter to his wife. We have not been able to learn what he wrote. Wheeler was furnished paper and tried to write, but he couldn’t do it. Hadn’t the nerve.
The statement made in yesterday’s extra in regard to the gathering of the mob at night is substantially correct. There are a few facts additional which will interest our good people.
The crowd numbered about 300. They disarmed the sheriff. When they opened the jail, Brown rushed out having got free from his shackles. He ran only a few yards before he fell with a pound of lead distributed through his body. Wheeler ran further, and fell with his right arm shattered, two fingers of his left hand shot away, and three Winchester balls in his body. He made a confession, but what it is is not known. He was not spared an hour as was rumored. He was hung with the rest. It is said that Wheeler implored mercy, and that his cries were so loud that they were heard half a mile. Wheeler begged piteously to be spared till 10 a.m. next day, and said that he would give away many things that would interest the community at large. The crowd could not wait, but stretched him up. Harvey Hortley has a piece of the rope with which Smith and Wesley were hung. Wheeler was hung with a lariat rope. Our Caldwell men were treated with the utmost kindness and consideration by the men of Medicine Lodge. at their request the bodies of Wheeler and Brown were exhumed and the boys say the features were as natural as if they were merely asleep. The bodies were buried in pine coffins and were shrouded. They were buried just over the line of the cemetery.
Winfield Courier, May 15, 1884.
From Carlie Siringo we have obtained the following particulars of Brown’s connection with Billy the Kid.

In the fall of 1878, just after the Lincoln County War, Brown came with the Kid to Tascosa, Texas, with a bunch of stolen horses, 75 or 100 in number. There were eight altogether in the Kid’s gang. They remained at Tascosa about two weeks and Brown behaved well while there. He was known as Henry Brown while with the Kid. He left the Kid’s gang at Tascosa, and went to the Wyatt Ranch below Paul’s Valley on the Washita. He came back to Tascosa in the spring of 1879, and went to work for Geo. Littlefield—worked for him till fall and then went to work for Campbell & Ledger, trailing horse thieves. In his rounds he came to Caldwell and was here some time. In the spring of 1880 he was a deputy Sheriff of Oldham County, Texas, under Capt. Willingham—Willingham discharged him. He said the only objection he had to Brown was that Brown was always wanting to fight and do something to get his name up. Brown came up the trail in 1881 with Littlefield’s cattle. Barnes, the foreman, had to discharge him “because he was always on the war path.”
Wheeler’s right name was William Robinson. He was from Rockdale, Milan County, Texas. He was for years an officer in Texas and had the most respectable connections. He had a wife and children, who are still living. It is not known why he left Texas, but it is supposed he murdered a man there.
Winfield Courier, June 5, 1884.
The property of the late Medicine Lodge bank robbers, assassins, and victims of lynch law, was sold at that place, at auction, last week, the gross receipts amounting to $325. Two of the horses, the ones ridden by Brown and Wheeler, were replevied by the widow of the latter. A “chromo,” or reward of merit should be given to the Wheeler horse, for it was through its instrumentality that the capture of the assassins was affected. It was not able to keep up with the rest of the party, and being sworn not to dessert each other, all were taken.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum